By on August 28, 2012

 

General Motors will idle production of the Chevrolet Volt for four weeks in total, according to a report by Automotive News.

This round of idling, the second instance this year, will start in mid-September. GM claims that they are continuing to match supply and demand, though inventories are at 84 days right before the shutdown, compared to 154 when the Detroit-Hamtramck plant was closed earlier this year.

So far, GM has sold just under 10,666 units of the Volt in 2012, well up from 2010, but still far off projections that were as high as 45,000 Volts sold in 2012.

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93 Comments on “GM To Idle Volt Plant Again...”


  • avatar

    I can see why they have stopped making the “Volt” I think they are very expensive for the average Consumer, and they have not proven there durablity over the long term!

  • avatar
    magicboy2

    From USA Today article:

    “We are not idling the plant due to poor Volt sales. We’re gearing up for production of the new Impala,” Chevy spokesman David Darovitz said in an email.

    Volt inventories are about half the levels of where they were when they shut down the plant last time, and sales continue to rise.

    • 0 avatar
      Volts On Fire

      Spin, spin, spin…

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        No mention by the GM spokesman of the fact that there is a new domestic competitor that has greater seating capacity and an initial cost that is about $10k less.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @mcs

        What car is that?

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        Ford C-Max?

      • 0 avatar
        Nicholas Weaver

        If you mean the C-Max plug-in, its a joke in the same class as the Plug in Prius: A 15 mile plug-in range is stupid, its far less cost savings than a 35 mile electric range.

        Also, the price difference goes way down, as the tax credit for a 35 mile plug-in is a good $5k more compared with the 15 mile plug-ins.

        I think the big problem with the volt is not the cost, or the utility. But the thing is so FUGLY on the outside…

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Volts on Fire, looks like the spin is pure TTAC.

        From AutoWeek: “General Motors plans to idle the plant where it assembles the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid for four weeks starting next month to retool for production of the all-new 2014 Impala and a small number of 2013 Malibus.

        GM will close its Detroit-Hamtramck plant from Sept. 17 until Oct. 15, one source said. Union representatives last week told the plant’s roughly 1,500 workers about the scheduled downtime.”

        Looks more like someone holds a GM grudge.

        ‘http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120828/carnews/120829843#ixzz24roV9HKo’

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Volt sales have risen every month since March and sales are on pace to exceed that of the 1G Prius in its 1st full year of sale in the US.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The Automotive News article specifically mentions the retooling for the Impala. Why that was omitted from here, I don’t know.

    That omission also represents a bit of a lost opportunity for a legitimate critique — why does it take GM so long to retool a plant?

    TMC can retool a line in half of the time or less. GM is now allegedly a lean producer, which should make this a faster process.

    • 0 avatar
      ttiguy

      I’m not sure which TMC plant you’re referencing but the Dham plant
      Is now going to be running 3 unique models. I can tell you from first hand experience that just the body shop tooling alone is quite complex and it’s unrealistic to expect the whole project to be completed within 10 days. If demand were really strong for either the ‘bu or volt the timeframe could be shrunk some I suppose but there really is little need for that.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @PCH101- a bit presumptuous to think you have adequate knowledge to make a comparison between TMC and GM in “re-tooling” plants unless you have detailed knowledge of specific cases, what tasks were reqiored and what the time constraints are for completion of those tasks. Data available for such things as die changes, shows that GM is a leader in that measure.

      ttiguy knows what he is talking about.

      @sunridge place- You are correct, and it is curious how the difference between Manufacturer’s revenue stream and Dealer sales is twisted and spun around here.

      @Ronnie Schreiber- You are correct: Ford at 113%, GM at 108% and Chrysler at 104%, if memory serves

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “a bit presumptuous to think you have adequate knowledge to make a comparison between TMC and GM in “re-tooling” plants unless you have detailed knowledge of specific cases”

        TMC retooled for the Camry in ten days.

        Apparently, GM needs 28 days to do something similar.

        Last I checked, 28 days was about 18 days longer than 10 days. But I suppose that things are different at General Motors.

        You will never admit it, of course, but Toyota does a better job of building cars than GM does. If your attitudes prevail at the new GM, then I can safely assume that this difference is not going to change, since people trained in the GM way are too stubborn to learn from others who can do it better.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        PCH- Your writings simply reaffirm your own bias and lack of understanding. TMC is a very well run company, but they are not godlike, as you presume. Nor is GM without good success stories. You have absolutely no idea what retooling for Camry means compared to the action at the Volt plant. None whatsoever, but typical liberal, you presume to know far more than you do, particularly with regards to how I or anyone in GM thinks.

        That is the height of presumption.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Your writings simply reaffirm your own bias and lack of understanding”

        Where I live, 28 – 10 = 18. Those 18 days cost money.

        I suppose that things are different at GM. And you wonder why the company filed bankruptcy.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Great arithmetic skill! Gold star.

        I don’t wonder, I know exactly why.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I don’t wonder, I know exactly why.”

        Your comments suggest that you have absolutely no clue why GM filed bankruptcy.

        Here’s a hint, though — it’s the mentality of the guy who stares back at you in the mirror.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Who really cares anyways that/why they are idling the plant. Volt sales figures are all over the internet first of every month for anyone that’s curious. That’s what matters, not what capacity the plant is running at. It’s obvious they set up the line to build more per day than they have ever been able to sell.

    The Volt has outsold the Leaf, PIP and every other full on EV put together in the last few months. It will do so again in August.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I’ve never been a fan of the Volt for a variety of reasons, but you are correct.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      With $7500 from the Feds (ten times the effective tax incentive for the Prius when it hit its stride with the gen 2 model) similar amounts from European countries plus various and sundry incentives from the states, GM has managed to sell a mere 1700 Volt/Amperas per month this year, worldwide. And in the US it gets three times the incentive the Prius PHV gets.

      If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of one hand clapping.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        How is the Leaf doing with the same incentive as the Volt and a lower selling price? The PIP is selling in far less numbers in the US than the Volt. I don’t know about the worldwide numbers.

        1700 per month is more than several cars that are on the market. What is also important is that so far, the rate per month still looks to be increasing as well.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “No mention by the GM spokesman of the fact that there is a new domestic competitor that has greater seating capacity and an initial cost that is about $10k less.”

    Who’s that? Right now there isn’t a car on the market that is an apples to apples comparison to the Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Asked the same question, if the answer, which I suspect is the Prius Plug-In then mcs is wrong.

      Volt: $39995 – $7500 = $32495

      Prius Plug-In: $32000 – $2500 = $29,500

      $2995 cheaper, not $10,000, with 1/4 to 1/3 the battery range, and that range is not pure battery only (up to about 47 MPH before gas kicks in) and has less features/options base model to base model.

      I’ll be curious to see the answer.

      If they misspoke and meant to say “just $10K higher,” (they did say domestic) that’s wrong to. The Tesla S is $57,400 in its base form. Tesla does a great job of spinning the price as $49,900 and burying you need the government tax break to get to that number (take a look at their website and the light gray hard to read fine print)

      Tesla S base: $57,400 – $7,500 = $49,900

      Chevy Volt base: $39,995 – $7,500 = $32,495

      The Tesla S is almost $17,500 more expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        When we consider the performance of the manufacturer, it’s best to set aside the tax rebate. Toyota hit a $32K MSRP price point and GM hits a $40K MSRP price point. True, the Toyota does not have the range that the Volt does but if you have a short commute (and why would someone who has actually cared about fuel consumption have a long commute?), then why would you pay more?

        Toyota aimed, deliberately, for the part of the market that they thought likely cared about fuel consumption enough to have done something about it already (people that live a low-miles lifestyle) and they programmed the car to get maximum advantage out of the battery. Seriously, why drain the battery pointlessly quickly on the highway when the ICE can handle high-speed demands efficiently?

        The Prius PHV may not come with the ad copy that you like but their success with the Prius Classic means they had nothing to prove and ere free to build a car that they thought offered good value. They did hit a far more reasonable price point than GM.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        KixStart,
        It is a lot easier to buy a different car than move when you get a different job. Also, it wouldn’t make sense to buy a PIP if you have a short commute. Your cost savings would be the worst. Buying a Corolla, Civic, Cruze, Focus, or Sentra would make far more sense.

        But, I also do wonder about the difference content outside of the battery when you compare the PIP and the Volt. But, I digress, I think it is applicable for consumers to compare the cost they are going to pay for the car.

        The Volt and PIP have rebates, both state and federal. Both should be considered by any consumer who might be in the market for these vehicles. Rarely is a car bought on price alone.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Well, one thing’s for sure, they’re certainly building more than they need to. The Volt is starting to look like the muffin stump of the automotive world.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too because if the Volt was much in demand they wouldn’t shut down production.

      To me it sounds like they have enough Volts in the pipeline to halt production without affecting supply.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      They sell as many Volts as they can get. At least according to the salesman at my local Chevy dealer, and after I had towait a week and make an appointment to see one. The Volt is an expensive niche vehicle, but it’s outselling the Corvette (which is similarly priced and also a niche vehicle).

      But I live in a college town in flyover country. There are enough well off people here who value new technology but who wont drive a look-at-me brand to drive sales. I’m sure places with a different cultural values will value the Volt differently.

      BTW, just went to lunch with a guy who makes six figures and drives a beater Corolla. The thing held four geeks in near-comfort and does exactly what he needs every, so why change! And the corporate mothership wonders why we have lower turnover than most other locations. :-)

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “$2995 cheaper, not $10,000, with 1/4 to 1/3 the battery range, and that range is not pure battery only (up to about 47 MPH before gas kicks in) and has less features/options base model to base model.”

    All you have to do with a PIP is floor it and even with a fully charged battery your burning gas. It’s nothing more than a regular Prius with a bigger battery meaning it’s still an ICE car w/battery asssit. Doesn’t have the electrical muscle to get out of its own way when it has to.

  • avatar

    No surprise. They have been building them at much higher rate than sales. The retooling excuse is just too convenient. Retooling for a car that is 1.5 years away?

    Its a shame the Volt isn’t selling at much greater numbers. It is the best value out there when leased, if you factor in savings on gas. On the plus side, Aug Volt sales are supposedly the best ever.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      The new Impala is not 1.5 years away…its about 6 months away…off by a year.

      • 0 avatar
        D in the D

        Less than 6 months, from what I’ve read in the Detroit papers… It also IS a 3rd platform, so the comparisons to Toyota or Honda are not valid.

        If people want to make that comparison, look at Fairfax, where the latest new Malibu was all-new and there was no stoppage at all. That’s where there is one platform like the transplant facilities have, and the results are similar, if not better.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I just had a quick look at Toyota’s website. It looks like It looks like Toyota has three Prius’ and a Camry hybrid that are cheaper than the volt. They do have a highlander listed for $38,715. This was quick an dirty research, I didn’t do the “build your own” games, nor did I seriously search the ‘net. Why would anyone pay extra to buy a Volt over one of the Toyota’s? 20 large for a Prius C is looking sweet.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      B/c the Volt looks and drives better than the Prius, and only the plug-in Prius can do an all electric mode for those w/ short enough commutes.

      And Prius sales didn’t really gain traction in the US until the 2nd generation when Toyota was able to cut the price significantly.

      The same will happen for the 2G Volt and in the meanwhile there will be the Cadillac ELR which, with it’s sleek sheetmetal and Cadillac badge, will be an easier sell when it comes to paying for the premium of being an early adopter of the Voltec system.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Prius C has a “do not recommend” from Consumer Reports for being ghastly to drive, having a ghastly interior and ghastly dynamics. It is a penalty box on wheels and not in the same class as even say a Corolla on features – it barely is in the same class as a Yaris.

  • avatar
    ABankThatMakesCars

    How many Volts were counted as sales that are sitting on dealer lots? How many Volts did the govt buy? How many Volts did GE buy? How many Volts did Utilities buy? How many Volts did consumers buy?

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      I’ll help here:

      ‘How many Volts were counted as sales that are sitting on dealer lots?’ None…the reported monthly sales are not sales to dealerships (unless you are BMW)

      ‘How many Volts did the govt buy? How many Volts did GE buy? How many Volts did Utilities buy? How many Volts did consumers buy?’

      Around 5% of Volt sales are fleet on a monthly basis. Google ‘volt fleet sales’ and you’ll see a number of dramatic articles that assumed increased sales this year for the Volt were driven by GE/Govt sales…that is not true.

      Here is one of those links:

      http://nation.foxnews.com/chevy-volt/2012/04/19/fishy-ge-behind-record-chevy-volt-sales

      Here’s last month’s fleet #’s for the Volt:

      http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120801/AUTO01/208010415

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      From TTAC it’s ownself: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/u-s-government-ignores-obamas-ev-plans-cuts-ev-purchases-in-half/
      The comments quickly delve into political debate. When you are looking for Government sales data, use GSA Government Services Administration. GSA buys all the the cars for the Gubmint.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        And as a ‘owner’ of seven GSAs here in Des Moines, my fleet consists of:

        – two Chevy Avalanches
        – one Chevy Malibu
        – two Ford Foci (new)
        – two Chevy Express Vans

        I am anticipating the delivery of two new vans in exchange for the others and another Focus for the ’09 Malibu. I have no idea why I have the Avalanches in lieu of the F250 diesels we normally have.

        No one I know of in the military fleet system has a Volt, ABankThatMakesCars. Need to step back from the NewsCorp media breakfast/lunch/dinner and adjust your tin-foil hat.

      • 0 avatar

        “And as a ‘owner’ of seven GSAs here in Des Moines, my fleet consists of:”

        No, you’re a manager not an owner and it isn’t your fleet, it belongs to us. The fact that you take a proprietary attitude towards public property is disturbing. Are you familiar with the term “steward”?

        Why is the GSA replacing a perfectly serviceable 2009 MY car? Why should you and your fellow public employees get to drive new cars at our expense? Use it up and wear it out like people do in the private sector. If the USAF can use B-52s that are older than I am, you can force yourself to suffer by driving a 2009 Malibu.

        As for NewsCorp, they’re more trustworthy than the SEIU and AFSCME.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        Geez Ronnie…relax. He put ‘owner’ in quotes for a reason. Maybe the Malibu is a lease? A 3 year lease of a govt fleet order late in the 09MY would be coming up around now.

        His point was that there aren’t Volts overwhelming his area of govt vehicles…in fact he had never seen one in govt fleet. He seems to be in the military as well.

        By the way, even though the foxnews link referenced here was a reprint of a thestreet.com news item, the headline is crap.

        Headline: Fishy? GE behind record Chevy Volt Sales

        Point of the article: In fact, initial concerns that the record sales number posted by the Chevy Volt in March was driven by a big fleet purchase from GE(GE) were premature and didn’t reflect just how quickly the Volt’s fortunes shifted in March….
        More importantly, only 160 of the purchases were by fleet buyers, while 2,129 Volts were purchased by retail car buyers. The fleet buying was only 5% of Volt sales.

        Now that’s a ‘Fair and Balanced’ Headline if I’ve ever seen one.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @ Ronnie, I don’t what the GSA schedule is for retaining vehicles. It seems overall that cars and pick ups are rotated more often than work trucks. GSA vehicles are often used as carpool vehicles with strict controls. There are rules for GSA vehicle use.
        I used to be the duty driver who picked up kids straight out of military schools. When I picked them up at the airport, I’d take em to eat if they were hungry and to the store if they needed something basic like toothpaste.
        B-52s make a poor example for an analogy, they require insane amounts of maintenance and constant upgrades.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Ronnie my friend, as a Major, an Officer, I do own things. My commission from Congress and the President of the United States states such. This includes all property, to include the Soldiers who are assigned under my command. However, I’ll deal specifically with durable goods, just for your sake.

        Property is lent to me, in a broad sense, by the American public, with the intention that all of it is under my direct control. I sign for it all and do monthly inventories with my Officers and NCOs in order to ensure due diligence. If lost/damaged/destroyed, I have to account for it and have seen many instances of someone having to pay the Gummint for the property they lost or dare I say it, stole.

        As for the AF utilizing B-52s since the ’50s, how many long-range strategic bombers do you think we need? Then I’ll point out that the AF has a long-standing love affair with the latest fighter jet and have had many since the ’50s and a new LRSB is not sexy like a F-22 Raptor. It also has nothing to do with me replacing a ’09 Malibu. While servicible, I have to stay within the limits of the lease the Gummint signed with the local car dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      How many Prius are in corporate, govt., and taxi fleets?

      Quite a bit.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        EXACTLY.

        Hundreds of them between city, county and taxi fleets in Seattle alone.

        Vancouver B.C. would have hundreds of them between taxis, city and provincial vehicles.

        Ditto for Portland, Oregon.

        I’ve never seen a fleet sales number for the Prius – I’m willing to bet 20%. BUT those are government/corporate purchase mostly, not kiss-of-death rental lot sales. However I have yet to see a Volt on any rental lot anywhere (I know you can rent them in NYC)

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        APA I’m way too lazy to dig up data on state/county/municipality owned Volts :P

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        bd2, glad you brought that up. The city of Des Moines has several Prius’ running around for civil service.

  • avatar
    ABankThatMakesCars

    That’s another thing…leases are counted as sales. What happens when these leases are turned in?

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      ‘leases are counted as sales. What happens when these leases are turned in?’

      This is quite simple as well. First of all, all car companies report leases as sales and GM has far fewer leases than most car companies.

      The bank that holds the lease note owns the car when its returned. In GM’s case (without a strong captive finance company yet) it is typically Ally or US Bank. The cars are sold as used with the bank keeping the proceeds (and carrying the risk)

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      And what happens to Toyota when all those $149 a month Camry leases get turned in?

      Sheeze – the questions people are asking.

  • avatar
    rickkop

    I was going to respond to this thread but there is so much miss-information it would be a total waste of time. UHG

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Ford C-Max?”

    Is that what mcs is talking about? He did say domestic. If that 15 mile range can be done without use of the gas engine like a Volt kudos to Ford. I suspect that’s not the case, most likely it operates like the PIP. A good car I’m sure, but not really comparable to a Volt.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    I like this take on the volt shutdown:

    http://www.jammiewf.com/2012/another-obama-success-story-gm-suspends-volt-output-due-to-slow-sales/

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Didn’t General Electric ink a deal to buy 50 thousand of these puppies?

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Hurry hurry, get your Volt while you can.

    http://www.cars.com/for-sale/searchresults.action?sf1Dir=DESC&mkId=20053&mdId=35025&rd=100000&crSrtFlds=stkTypId-feedSegId-mkId-mdId&PMmt=1-1-0&stkTypId=28880&sf2Dir=ASC&sf1Nm=price&sf2Nm=location&isDealerGrouping=false&rpp=50&feedSegId=28705&searchSource=GEO_SEARCH&pgId=2102&zc=00001

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    OK, I’ll play. According to your link there are 5,460 Volts sitting on Chevrolet dealer lots.

    There are, according to AutoTrader.com, 3,084 Chevrolet dealerships in the United States. Before you wail, “that’s too many,” there are now more Ford dealerships than Chevrolet dealerships, source AutoTrader also.

    http://www.autotrader.com/research/article/new-research/79318/for-first-time-ford-tops-chevy-in-number-of-us-dealers.jsp

    So lets do some reaaaaaly simple math.

    5460 Volts / 3084 dealerships = 1.77 Volts in inventory per Chevrolet dealer.

    Wait, we’re not done – if we use your number. GM is selling about 1,500 Volts (lets be conservative and pad the number down) a month right now (and outselling all other comers combined basically).

    So there is about three months inventory on lots right now.

    Now lets have more fun with numbers, GarbageMotors style…seems as though Scion has a major iQ inventory problem…

    http://www.cars.com/for-sale/searchresults.action?stkTyp=N&tracktype=newcc&mkId=20085&AmbMkId=20085&AmbMkNm=Scion&make=Scion&AmbMdNm=iQ&model=iQ&mdId=35969&AmbMdId=35969&rd=100000&zc=00001&searchSource=QUICK_FORM&enableSeo=1

    Scion has 800 dealerships in the United States.

    2612 / 800 = 3.265 iQs per Scion dealer. Double the Volt inventory. The horrors I tell you, the horrors!

    Lets look at how many iQs Scion is selling (and likely at a loss given the strength of the Yen).

    http://pressroom.toyota.com/releases/july+2012+sales+chart.htm

    Well, Scion is selling about 800 a month year to date.

    2612 / 800 = 3.265 – oh about the same level of inventory as the Volt.

    The horrors!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The iQs represent 44 million dollars in inventory. The Volts put 224 million dollars on the tab, assuming they don’t cost GM more than they can be unsold for.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        You do realize that car companies get their revenue around the time the vehicle is shipped (and thus invoiced) to the dealership right?

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        So of course you approve of GM booking 1/4 BILLION in revenue with that inventory. In the auto industry when the dealer buys them, or floor finances them, they’re sold – remember?

        And remember, that’s not a GM thing, that an auto industry thing. Toyota counts them at the dealer. BMW counts them at the dealer. Maybachs were counted – at the dealer.

        So not only is the iQ, if I use the same logic, a sales dog, with too much capacity and too much inventory, its sucking the money out of Toyota by its very existence providing “only” $44 million in income – give or take.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Counting sales to dealerships as sales. Very clever.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Who loans the money to the dealers to buy the cars? GM?

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        CJ-

        Ally provides the overwhelming majority of floorplan financing for GM dealerships. Ally is not GM money.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        No. It is US treasury money, an additional 16.3 billion dollars down the drain to clean up the mess made by GM.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @wsn

        This is a widely known industry practice. From Audi to VW they all do it.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @CJinSD what does that have to do with the price of rice in China.

        The discussion is Volt inventory, not who is paying for it.

        You can keep tossing up strawmen arguments all day long but like it or not, the Volt is the best selling plug-in or plug-in combo on the market, it is by all reports a solid offering, and based on the inventory numbers the naysayers provided, inventory isn’t a big scary issue.

        The rest you’re kicking up – is just noise – and the whole “government owns GM” argument – it’s kind of old and worn out.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Resentment of GM is half who is paying for it, half the garbage they’ve used to shaft their customers with. Ally being owned by the US Treasury is absolutely a giant, economy-sized issue when GM is still run by channel stuffing charlatans. Do you understand that? This is no joke. This is a bunch of crooks moving around our public liability that is GM to hide the harm being done until after the election.

        Some reports note that the Volt is a cramped prank with an exaggerated range, but you choose to ignore them or impeach people who aren’t in on the scam that is GM.

    • 0 avatar

      Or just use Autmotive News Data Center to get the inventory numbers

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Okay so now that the B&B have had their pissing contest between the (RE)volting GM apologists and the ‘GM is dead’ crowd (that’s me:-)), answer me this: Is the Chevrolet Volt a success by any measure? forget technically because we already know it is but what about minor things like return on investment, contribution to GM’s profits, overall sales, public acceptance etc. Or is it another sink hole for copius amounts of cash, you know, like the Soltice/Sky, Chevy SSR debacles?

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      I’m not really in a pissing contest…I tend to post facts.

      To your question, it depends how you want to look at it. I don’t really think the Volt is out there for immediate ROI/profit. I do know that the owners of the Volt tend to be a happy bunch.

      It is tracking about where the Prius was as far as US sales and even global sales at this point although not being in the Japanese market will probably hurt it at keeping pace. Success in China could change that but they will have to build it in China to sell it successfully in China.

      http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/10/worldwide-prius-cumulative-sales-top-2m-mark-toyota-reportedly-plans-two-new-prius-variants-for-the-.html

      The only successful hybrid ever was a vehicle designed to be such a vehicle from the ground up–Prius…just like the Volt in that its not just a variant of another vehicle. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Volt will be a success.

      If you look at the chart in the link and compare, the Volt will probably be around 18k-19k units in the US this year…right around where the Prius was. You will also notice that the Prius really took off when Gen 2 came out in 03/04. Gen 2 also had increased production #’s and was well-timed for the doubling of gas prices between 05 and 08.

      Once the Prius got that momentum, it was all over.

      So, a short-term view of the Volt profitability is probably short-sighted. Can Gen 2 of the Volt get better and cheaper? That will probably tell the story.

    • 0 avatar

      The SSR was profitable. Maximum anticipated production was about 13,000 units annually, and with the number of Chevy stores at the time, that was about enough to have one on the showroom floor, a demo for test drives, and a new unit available for sale for each of the dealers.

      Besides, the purpose of the SSR was to bring people into the showrooms. According to a market survey done for ASC, a major vendor for the SSR, GM sold about 70,000 full size trucks and SUVs a year to people who came in to look at the SSR. There’s a lot of profit in 70K trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        ‘The SSR was profitable’

        ‘According to a market survey done for ASC, a major vendor for the SSR, GM sold about 70,000 full size trucks and SUVs a year to people who came in to look at the SSR.’

        http://www.autoweek.com/article/20041213/FREE/412130720

        Either you have a bad memory or this was the type of math that led old GM into bankruptcy.

        This article references 22,000 sales…not 70,000 sales. And, the source of the survey is a bit suspect. Kind of like reading a study from RJ Reynolds about the health risks of smoking.

        300 day supply? I know niche vehicles can give strange #’s…but the SSR wasn’t a success. It didn’t bring GM down, but its hard to argue it was profitable.

        It also never got above 10k in annual sales despite the 13k possibility…far below where the Volt is now.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The SSR was just one of many Lutz-inspired niche misadventures for GM.

        In 2001 GM announced the end of the F-body claiming the market for performance cars was too small to justify updating the car. So down the drain goes decades of history and fandom.

        Then, only a few months after the last F-body is built, GM sends out some crazy retro convertible halo truck that proceeds to sell far below expectations and is only defendable today by a survey conducted by the company that helped build the car for GM.

        Then, we are sent a Miata compeitior ON A WHOLE NEW PLATFORM that sells way below expectations.

        At the same time, we get a Monaro wearing a GTO badge that sells below expectations. Even when you combine the annual sales of the SSR, Kappas, and GTO you get far less than what the F-body managed in its final years.

        Finally, GM decides that maybe they had something good going, and brings back the Camaro.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @ajla- Actually, SSR was Wagoner’s baby. He drove a concept and decided it ought to go into production. He something along the lines of “I am no product guy, but this thing has to be built!” He was right on the first point, anyway. The vehicle looked great, to some eyes, but had neither performance nor load capacity. Not much of a sports car and not much of a truck. Its failure was a foregone conclusion, at least in my mind back in the day.

        Wagoner realized he was no product guy and was smart enough to bring Lutz on and empower him to move the product in a much better direction.

        As for Solstice/Sky- They outsold their direct competitor, Mazda Miata and were unqualified market successes from the standpoint of segment share.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Volt is certainly the best selling car that can be driven under electric power at any speed, roughly twice the sales rate of the only competitor, Nissan Leaf. A lot of fools around here made up the story that Volt was to “Save” GM. It was never intended to be a profit generator, but a first application of a practical, electrically driven automobile and it is doing very well at that. Dangerous to believe much of anything you read here, except, of course, my posts.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Doctor Olds: “Dangerous to believe much of anything you read here, except, of course, my posts.”

      I had to login just to let you know I laughed out loud at your post…

      This whole thread is laughable, but for other reasons.

      Flogger, meet dead horse. Dead horse, flogger…

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @geozinger- I was hoping for a laugh.

        @MCS- Coasting while you are out of gas is hardly running in EV mode! Doesn’t the Volt have a top speed higher than your Prius can manage with the gas engine? It will run circles around your car from an acceleration perspective, too.

        You may want to catch up on your facts. GM made all time record profit last year. I know,I know, it is a new company, but the new company made more than the old one did in the best of times on today’s much smaller dollar sales volume. Also, as a point of interest, GM is currently running manufacturing plants in America at 108% of straight time capacity. Don’t come here to learn, just to be entertained.

      • 0 avatar

        Doc Olds, according to what I saw in the DetNews this morning, all three domestics are running at 100%+ capacity.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Me to…Geo wins post of the day award. Sorry Doc you will have to settle for second place.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Sorry Doc you will have to settle for second place.”

        I do hope that you realize that Dr. Olds blames the blue collar work force and its unions (read: guys like you) for the GM bankruptcy.

        He doesn’t take any responsibility for the bankruptcy at all, even though he participated in the design of the cars that allowed Toyota and Honda to surpass them. He’d rather point the finger at the people who worked on the assembly line.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @PCH- as usual, you are ignorant of which you write, particularly about what you think my role in GM was.

        I have never condemned the blue collar man. I have great respect for the many capable people in the UAW. By and large, they are good people trying to get a good day’s pay for a good day’s work. I put many UAW folks well above lots of salaried people in their competence, conscientiousness and capability.
        I have stated a clear and absolute fact: All three US carmakers were burdened with contractual obligations that couldn’t be sustained in the face of global competition and depleted all of them over time such that the financial collapse of 2008 killed two of the three.
        I have also stated that the primary reason for the financial success of all three today is the breakthrough UAW contract of 2007, particularly the VEBA and elimination of Jobs Bank which relieved an $8B drain off the bottom line of GM, alone.

        Additionally, I never claim GM was perfect, didn’t make mistakes, just that they, as the largest manufacturing company in the country, were also caught up in the downward spiral of American manufacturing competitiveness in the face of fierce global competition. Far from perfect, there are many factors in addition to management decisions that brought the industry down. To believe otherwise is to ignore empirical reality and simply assume all the Americans are stupid. I don’t buy into that and have a very, very long and broad and deep understanding of the issues and dynamics of the industry.

        Does the P stand for Presumptuous?

        Typical presumptuous lib, put words in the other’s mouth and attack the individual.

        Mikey and Geo, Thanks! Second place is a lot better than being called a drooling troll.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “Volt is certainly the best selling car that can be driven under electric power at any speed”

      You might want to change that definition. Just yesterday I ran an unmodified Gen II Prius at over 55 in pure EV mode.

      I was wondering why it wasn’t accelerating and noticed the fuel economy bars were maxed at 99.9 mpg, and the graphic was showing basically that it was in EV mode. At the top of the display was the answer: “Add Fuel.” Anyway, the regen braking on the exit ramp gave us just enough power to crawl into a gas station.

      Anyway, as far as bragging rights for sales numbers go, I suppose I could buy Rolex, re-price their watches at $1.99, and probably get to be the number one selling watch in the world overnight. Then go broke very quickly and go with hat in hand to the Swiss government to bail me out. But, then again, I didn’t go to GMI/Kettering (other than a couple of parties). I was taught to make a profit on my products.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    I know some knock anyone connected with GM, as a know nothing failure, but I just consider the source. Retiring from the Powertrain Product Engineering staff in 2008, I can assert with absolute surety that GM well knew Volt would not be a profit generator long before the sideline chatterers here knew much of anything about the car, or even initiated the silly GM death watch. Test drive one for yourself. It is a fantastic car and there are almost 2 cars per dealership in inventory, on average, so you might be able to get in one.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I don’t consider you or anyone else connected with GM “a know nothing failure”. I have many friends who made a career out of working for GM and they are not happy with the way things turned out for them, or for GM.

      You are smart enough to know that each individual either buys or shuns a GM product for their own reasons, or based on their own ownership experiences of the past.

      No one forced buyers to join the mass exodus away from GM and the domestics. They did that all on their own.

      Regardless of the merits of the Volt, actual buyers seem to shun them and choose a Prius variant instead.

      You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @highdesertcat- I agree that folks should buy what they want on the merits of the product. Your “Mass Exodus” phrase is inapt, though. The reality is that strong global competitors entered our market. The existing players had to lose share, simple arithmetic. The more pieces of the pie, the smaller they are.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Olds, I have to agree with you about my use of the “Mass Exodus” phrase being inadequate. It cannot begin to describe what happened over the decades. But I didn’t know of a stronger illustration to describe it.

        Full disclosure here: my brothers made a lot of money when they started selling the foreign brands next to their domestic brands, so it wasn’t equally bad for everyone.

        As a driver of solely-domestic vehicles in the US until 2008 when we bought our very first foreign-brand SUV, a Japan-built Toyota Highlander Limited, I never even considered buying anything but domestic until then. Never drove anything else. Didn’t know any better.

        And again, you’re right with “The reality is that strong global competitors entered our market.” And I’ve often questioned why the US government actively recruited foreign companies to set up shop in America which, in spite of creating some jobs for unemployed Americans in states that needed jobs, actually caused more harm to the US auto industry and the UAW.

        To me, it would seem that allowing foreign imports would have done much less damage to the US auto makers and the UAW. As in let the buyer decide what flies and what dies.

        But all that aside, the crowning glory of the US government has to be the NAFTA trade agreement.

        Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve said this before to much criticism, but I would like to see ALL the foreigners pack up their toys and move to Mexico and import under NAFTA.

        That would keep a lot more Mexicans home, instead of over here, sucking us dry.

        (And before someone accuses me of anything, let me add I have a Mexican-born daughter-in-law who got here illegally at age 3 and is now a naturalized American citizen after marrying my son, years back. She feels even stronger about illegals being here, sucking up the benefits that she is paying taxes for.)

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Another thing,every manufacturer sells to dealers. That is the correct definition of a factory sale. The dealers are their customers and pay them for the vehicles. A lot of the discussion around this topic conveniently ignores this hard and fast reality.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Yes and No. Some of the so-called B&B have a problem grasping the difference between a reported ‘sale’ or ‘delivery’ on the month end sales report and when the OEM books the revenue.

      The revenue is booked at ‘sale’ to the dealership but the monthly sales data in the US is a true delivery to a customer/business.


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